ECC Explorers Visit Crystal Coast for Inaugural Trip
For some members of a group of Edgecombe Community College students, a recent day trip to Morehead City was especially momentous. They visited the North Carolina coast for the first time.
The inaugural trip of the ECC Explorers took place on Friday, October 13, which coincided with the college’s fall break. Eleven ECC and Edgecombe Early College High School students left the Tarboro campus early and headed east.
Destinations included the NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores, Fort Macon State Park, the UNC Institute of Marine Sciences, and Carteret Community College in Morehead City. Students traveled together in the college van, driven by ECC President Dr. Greg McLeod, who also served as chaperone and tour guide.
The ECC Explorers is the brainchild of Dr. McLeod. “Exposing people to new things helps open their eyes to new possibilities. It builds confidence and motivation, and helps people see how interconnected we are. I wanted to give that experience to our students,” he explains.
A trip to the Crystal Coast was an ideal destination for the first trip of the ECC Explorers. Fort Macon is a restored pre-Civil War fort and one of the state’s most visited parks. The NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores is an aquatic treasure. Among other exhibits, the Living Shipwreck is the largest manmade ocean habitat in North Carolina.
At Carteret Community College, President Dr. Tracy Mancini welcomed the students and led them on a tour of the college’s aquaculture technology program and boat-building lab, which supports CCC’s boat manufacture and service technology program.
She also accompanied the group on a tour of the UNC Institute of Marine Sciences, adjacent to the Carteret campus. “Dr. Mancini was very generous with her time. She spent most of the afternoon with us and could not have been more gracious and welcoming,” Dr. McLeod says.
He wanted Edgecombe students to tour other schools, he explains, “to expose them to what might come next. I wanted to integrate an educational program into the itinerary because you never know where something might lead them.”
Students met Dr. Rick Luettich, director of the UNC Institute of Marine Science, and several faculty members, who described their current research initiatives. “In particular, they spoke about the impact of global warming on North Carolina coastal marine life,” Dr. McLeod says. “Who knows, maybe someone in our group will be inspired to become a marine biologist. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?”
He adds, “I recognize the value that is found in going to new places, meeting new people, and experiencing new things. And you don’t have to go far. Hopefully this trip is the start of something that will be ongoing.”